A MAN who sold ammunition to the twisted gunman behind the Las Vegas massacre says he’s still haunted by one question five years on from the devastating bloodbath: “What was it that I missed?”
Douglas Haig, 59, pleaded guilty in November 2019 to a federal count of manufacturing ammunition without a license in what was the only criminal case to stem from the 2017 mass shooting, the deadliest ever recorded on U.S. soil.
Haig, an aerospace engineer who operated a personal ammunition business out of his Mesa, Arizona home on the side, first met shooter Stephen Paddock at a gun show in Phoenix in early September 2017.
A “very clean cut and well spoken” Paddock, 64, approached Haigs’ stall and asked to purchase a large number of tracer rounds, which is a type of bullet that ignites and produces a bright trail of light when fired.
But there was a problem: Haig didn’t have to hand the number of tracer rounds Paddock was seeking.
“Well is there any way I can get it? I really need it,” Haig, speaking exclusively to The U.S. Sun, recounted Paddock asking him.
“I want to go out in the desert later this week and put on a light show for my friends.”
Haig wrote down his address and handed it to Paddock, telling him to meet him there at 3.30pm the following day once he’d got off from working his day job.
An overly eager Paddock would call him at 12.30pm, asking to pick up the cache early but Haig told him to wait until the time they’d agreed.
The unassuming customer showed up on time and handed Haig somewhere between $650-$700 in exchange for 720 rounds of tracer ammunition.
Haig handed the ammo to Paddock in an Amazon Prime cardboard box, which Paddock strangely put on gloves to handle.
That was the last time Haig would have any contact with Paddock.
Less than a month later, the retired businessman and avid gambler became one of the worst mass murderers in U.S. history.
On October 1, 2017, Paddock gunned down 58 people and injured hundreds more after opening fire at attendees of Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest festival from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. The death toll later rose to 60.
Across a period of 11 horrifying minutes, Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds at the panic-stricken crowd before taking his own life, bringing an end to the sickening rampage that law enforcement has never been able to determine a motive for.
‘NO RED FLAGS’
Haig was alerted to the shooting early on October 2, 2017, by a call from officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI, who were outside of his front door.
The Amazon box that Haig had handed to Paddock weeks earlier had been found in the gunman’s hotel room, with a cache of more than 20 other firearms and loaded high-capacity magazines.
He didn’t initially recognize Paddock’s face or name when questioned by police, but eventually remembered his interaction with the mild-mannered 64-year-old after being prompted by a business associate.
Now haunted by his interactions with Paddock, Haig said there was nothing in the way that Paddock acted or in what he said or did that hinted at the evil he was plotting to unleash.
My wife watched me lay in bed and cry and keep repeating to myself, ‘What did I miss? What did I miss? What did I miss?’
“At no time did I see anything [out of the ordinary],” declared Haig.
“If I’ve caught one thing – if he would’ve just said one wrong thing – I told him to get out of there I’m not selling you anything.
“But there was nothing that even remotely hinted at what was lurking behind his eyes and in his mind. Nothing.
“I just didn’t detect anything and I’m usually a pretty good read on people.”
Among the potential red flags Haig would look for before making a sale, he said, was nervous behavior, in addition to any comments about using the ammo to harm someone or someone else’s property.
But Paddock didn’t exhibit any kind of red flag, Haig added, and the tale he spun about wanting to put on a “light show” in the desert was not out of the ordinary in Arizona at certain times of the year.
“He was just another customer,” reflected Haig. “He did nothing out of the ordinary and conducted himself – and I hate to say it – with dignity and propriety.
“He was very well spoken, he was clean.
“The only thing I thought that was odd at the time was that even his jeans were pressed and had a crease running down the middle of the leg.
“I thought that was odd … but mind you, I’m an engineer. I have seen engineers walk around with pressed jeans … being around aerospace engineers and being around the best of the best in the aerospace world you see a lot of odd things.”
Among other strange things Haig noticed about Paddock, he would later tell investigators, was that when the gunman bought ammunition at his home, Paddock went to his car to get gloves and put them on before taking the cardboard box filled with ammo.
“What I thought was weird about that was that he put them on inside out,” Haig explained.
“They were leather gloves and he put them on rough-side out.
“I also thought to myself that it was odd that somebody would put on a pair of gloves to pick up a cardboard box.
“But again, I have seen people wear gloves to move a piece of wood to pick up you know to use a rake in their yard – it was it was not something I would do but it certainly wasn’t a red flag.”
Part of me is glad Paddock is dead and burning in Hell but then another part of me wishes that he was alive to pay for his crimes.
When law enforcement told him that he had sold ammunition to the culprit behind a mass shooting in Vegas, Haig was immediately overcome with feelings of nausea.
Everything started spinning as agents were talking to him, he said, and he desperately fought back the urge to run off into a nearby bush to throw up.
“I’m not a squeamish guy,” he said, “but I just can’t imagine those poor people being shot at from above by this guy and having nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, watching your loved ones be shot in front of you.
“I just can’t fathom that,” added Haig.
“There was something severely broken in this guy, and that’s the problem.
“There’s no way to tell until they snap.”
DEATH THREATS AND PANIC
Inside Paddock’s suite, investigators allegedly found ammunition with reloading tool marks packed into an Amazon shipping box that listed Haig’s address.
They also found ammunition that Haig sold to Paddock loaded into five rifles and one magazine in the suite, according to court records.
An attorney for Haig previously said that none of those rounds were fired during the attack.
From the offset, Haig claimed to The U.S. Sun that he was fully cooperative with law enforcement in their investigation, potentially to a fault.
He said he gave investigators access to his phone, showed them around his home, and talked with them in depth about his interactions with Paddock and the ammo he sold him.
But with Paddock dead, and as the investigation progressed, Haig said he grew increasingly concerned that law enforcement was “zeroing in” on him because they needed a “fall guy”.
Those fears were exacerbated months after the shooting when he was named as a person of interest in an old search warrant unsealed by a judge.
Almost overnight, Haig said his world was turned upside down; friends shunned him, colleagues ostracized him, and strangers started threatening his and his family’s lives.
“All of the close friends that I ran with in my circle 95% of them abandoned me, wouldn’t call me, wouldn’t return my calls… I was persona non grata.
“My wife went into a severe, severe depression and my daughter had to quit her college sorority because they equated her last name with my last name and started saying horrible things about me, calling me a killer, and how that by extension, she was a horrible person.”
Haig continued: “My wife and I sat in the living room and stared at the wall – I am not kidding – in silence for months.
“We were robots, we were automatons, we could basically barely get through day-to-day life.
“We didn’t know when the door was going to get banged on; we didn’t know who we were going to see in our house at night; we didn’t know who was going to be sitting out in our front yard; we didn’t know when somebody was going to shoot me when I walked outside – we knew nothing.
“[I felt] helpless and terrified. Trapped.
“You know that you didn’t do anything wrong but you know there’s no way you can convince someone otherwise.
“The FBI had to hang somebody and I had the crosshairs on my forehead.”
With law enforcement breathing down his neck, Haig said the death threats against him continued to mount.
Interviews with federal investigators spanned several months, during which agents seized hundreds of pounds of ammunition and ammunition components from Haig.
Haig acknowledged making tracer and armor-piercing bullets at his home to federal investigators, legal documents state, and selling them at gun shows and on the internet, under the business name Specialized Military Ammunition.
Haig’s fingerprints were found on unfired bullets in Paddock’s hotel suite, and ammunition also bore tool marks consistent with Haig’s reloading equipment, authorities said.
In legal documents, prosecutors also claimed that Haig told a witness to lie to the FBI and ATF agents about whether he sold the ammunition that he manufactured because he didn’t possess a federal firearms license and therefore wasn’t authorized to manufacture ammunition.
Haig was indicted by a grand jury on August 22, 2018, and pleaded guilty to the illegally manufacturing ammunition charge on November 19, 2019.
He was sentenced in July 2020 to 13 months in federal prison for selling home-loaded bullets to Paddock, in addition to three years of supervised release.
Speaking from his home, roughly halfway through his three-year probation, Haig says he still thinks often of Paddock and the horror he unleashed upon thousand along the Las Vegas Strip five years ago.
“I’m not gonna say I still think about it every day but for the first three years, I did – and not just every day but every spare moment when I would stop paying attention to what I was doing, my mind would invariably drift to those poor people,” said Haig.
“If you ever want to feel completely and utterly helpless, ineffective, impotent, whatever you want to call it, try to come up with words to console those people.
“Try to come up with a way to ease their pain and grief, because there is no way.
“What happened over there was just evil – absolutely pure evil.
“Part of me is glad Paddock is dead and burning in Hell but then another part of me wishes that he was alive to pay for his crimes.”
‘WHAT DID I MISS?’
Throughout the several-year ordeal, and even today, Haig says he’s still plagued by the ‘what ifs’ of his encounter with Paddock.
He said he tortured himself almost nightly, laying in bed next to his wife, crying as he asked himself over and over again, “what did I miss? What did I miss? What did I miss?”
“It [still] bothers me,” admitted Haig. “It’s the ‘what if’ question that will be in the back of my mind on the day that I die.
“Whether it will be in the front of my mind or not, I don’t know. But it will always be with me.
“You can’t experience something like this and then forget it – the only thing that happens is that the frequency that it pops to the forefront of your mind decreases with time.
“It doesn’t happen as frequently but when it does surface it’s still as painful.
“What could I have done differently? What did I miss? Where did I make a mistake? Did he say or do something at the gun show that I was too preoccupied to notice? Did he have somebody with him?
“I continually try to analyze it over and over and over.
“This experience devastated me,” he added. “I’m still not over it and I still have down times where I just don’t want to do anything.
“The other problem is I’m always looking over my shoulder. Even in the last six months people have walked up to me and asked ‘didn’t I see you on the news?’
“[But] I’m going to make the best of my life, this is not going to be my defining moment.”
Haig shuttered his ammunition business on October 19, 2017, around two weeks after the attack.
As part of his plea, his inventory of more than 600 pounds of various ammunition and ammunition components became subject to government forfeiture.
And as a convicted felon, he is no longer allowed to own a gun, under both Arizona and federal law.
For Haig, as he attempts to piece his life and reputation back together, he says the thought of being associated with Paddock’s crimes for the rest of his life disturbs him.
When asked to share his thoughts on the mass murderer, Haig said he doesn’t “think there are enough adjectives to properly describe the evil that flowed through this man.”
“He’s just pure evil,” he added. “I understand it’s not the guns fault, it’s not the ammunition fault: it’s his fault.
He’s the defective unit in this whole mess. It wasn’t a bump stock, it wasn’t armor piercing, it wasn’t tracer ammunition: It was him being mentally defective.
“Something wasn’t wired right in him. Something was defective.
“He belonged in an institution but he knew he knew obviously, how to get through life adequately without raising any flags.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6330878/las-vegas-massacre-anniversary-man-sold-bullets-shooter-haunted/ Man who sold ammo to Vegas shooter reveals his cover-up for buying bullets & the question that still haunts him